“New Year, New You!” Sentara Offers Weight Loss Surgery Program

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By Helena Tavares Kennedy

Sponsored by Sentara 

If losing weight is on your New Year’s resolution list, and you’ve tried changing what you eat or different exercises in past years, maybe it’s time for something new this year. Sentara is offering a free Bariatric and Surgical Weight Loss Seminar to see if weight loss surgery might be a good option for you.

On Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10:30 – 11:30 a. m., talk to Sentara health professionals at the Homewood Suites in Woodbridge to get your questions answered about weight loss surgery.

The information session is led by one of Sentara’s board-certified and highly experienced surgeons who performs weight loss surgery at the nationally accredited center. If you can’t make it to the January seminar, they are also hosting one on March 9 and May 4. Keep an eye on this webpage for details: sentara.com/woodbridge-virginia/classesevents/events/bariatric-surgical-weight-loss-seminar-625.aspx.

Can’t make it in person? A video on-demand seminar is now available anytime at sentaranova.com/wl. The on-demand online seminar is approximately 35 minutes, and after watching in its entirety, you can request an appointment with a weight loss surgeon.

Benefits of weight loss surgery

You probably think of the obvious benefits to weight loss surgery like the change in physical appearance, but there is more to it. “While some people lose more than 50% of their excess weight in approximately one year, the benefits go further,” said Diana Roca, RN, BSN, Sentara’s Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator. “There are many positive improvements that a person undergoing weight loss surgery will find such as the resolution and/or improvement with Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, gastric reflux, sleep apnea, depression, joint pain and high blood pressure. There is also a decreased need for medications, improvement in not only self-esteem, but also quality of life which can increase life expectancy.”


A weight loss surgery patient said surgery changed his life. “This heaviness, this weight, that pulls on you, literally pulls on you. It’s awful. Right now, where I am, 180 pounds lighter is unbelievable,” said Stephen Carter-Hicks, a Woodbridge resident and competitive swimmer as a teen. As someone who ate healthy, did not have weight issues when he was younger, and did all the right things, weight gain was causing him to reach 450 pounds at one point. “To have this procedure done, gave me much more energy. I’m blessed, I’m so lucky to have the team of surgeons I have.”

So what advice does Carter-Hicks have for someone considering weight loss surgery? “Don’t wait, don’t hem and haw, because you’ll talk yourself out of it,” said Carter-Hicks. “This is not the secret weapon and you’ll be cured of whatever ails you and that you’ll be thin for the rest of your life. Whatever your goal weight is, you still have to work at it. It becomes your way of life.”

Krystal Washington, a Stafford resident had surgery done after a fertility doctor told her issues getting pregnant were caused by her weight. She ended up having two children before the weight loss surgery, but gained even more weight after their births and eventually decided to have the weight loss surgery.

Washington said the surgery gave her a new lease on life and that “I’m a girl that loves to go on roller coasters and it would devastate me when I couldn’t when I was heavier, so now I’m like let’s go to Kings Dominion tomorrow!” She has always been someone who wanted to be active and get up and go, “but I think even more so now that I have that drive. It just makes family vacations better, because we went to Sesame Place this summer and I think that I out-walked the kids.”

Her advice is to “Do all the research that you can. If it’s something you want to do, do the research and just go for it.”

How does it work?

“With laparoscopic weight loss surgery, typically the operation takes between one to two hours and guests can expect to stay in the hospital one to two days,” said Roca. “Typically, they will return to light duty activity or work in approximately two weeks and to full activity within four to six weeks.”

The preparation and follow up support is key at Sentara. “There is a comprehensive pre-op work up after consulting with the surgeon,” said Roca. “Typically, insurances require a nutrition program which includes a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian to develop an individualized plan, goal setting, customized vitamins and supplements, and meeting with a counselor. Prior to surgery as well as post-surgery, there will be a lot of education regarding food, nutrition, exercise and emotional wellness.”

“This will be a life-long project, but they’re not alone,” said Roca. “We want to make sure our guests have all the tools they need to be successful in their weight loss journey and have positive outcomes.”

Sentara is a progressive and integrated healthcare organization with various locations in Prince William County. They are dedicated to providing leading medical experts, advanced technology and continuous innovation to improve health every day. To find a doctor, call 1-800-Sentara or visit sentara.com.


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